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Old St. Ann's school set to come down

The old St. Ann's Catholic School building will be demolished this summer. The school was built in 1903. It has not been used for the last five years.

The Panama Canal was a brand-new idea and Teddy Roosevelt was president of the United States in 1903 when St. Ann's Catholic Church opened a school in Wadena.

While St. Ann's School lives on in the year 2010 with a good family atmosphere that offers students a lot of one-on-one with teachers and staff, the 107-year-old original building is slated to be demolished this summer, leaving only the addition which present-day St. Ann's students call their school.

St. Ann's business manager Barb Butler, who is letting bids for the demolition project, fully expects a crowd to be on hand the day the wrecking ball begins to bring down its walls.

"It's full of memories," Butler said. "It's tough to see those old buildings go down."

The enrollment of St. Ann's today is one-tenth of the 400 that once attended the three-story parochial school on Franklin Avenue. The present-day St. Ann's School had students in grades one through six. It was added to the original three-story building in 1952.

St. Ann's began cutting ties with the old building about five or six years ago, according to Butler, just to "see if we could manage in the newer addition." The gym continued to be used for a few years but the boiler was taken out in 2009 and an auction sale was held last summer. Parishioners have recently held a couple of clean-up days in the old school building.

Some asbestos removal has been done but more is needed before the old building can be brought down for good.

"It's a bittersweet experience," St. Ann's principal Eileen Weber said.